It's official. Governments at the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) have unanimously upheld the international de facto moratorium on Terminator technology - plants that are genetically engineered to produce sterile seeds at harvest. The 8th meeting of the CBD ended today in Curitiba, Brazil.
"The CBD has soundly rejected the efforts of Canada, Australia and New Zealand - supported by the US government and the biotechnology industry - to undermine the moratorium on suicide seeds," said Maria Jose Guazzelli of Centro Ecologico, a Brazil-based agro-ecological organization.
"By consensus decision, all governments have re-affirmed the moratorium on a genetic engineering technology that threatens the lives and livelihoods of 1.4 billion people who depend on farmer-saved seed," said Pat Mooney, Executive Director of ETC Group.
Over the past two weeks, the call for a ban on sterile-seed technology took center stage at the UN meeting in Brazil. Thousands of peasant farmers, including those from Brazil's Landless Workers Movement (Movimento Sem Terra) protested daily outside the UN meeting to demand a ban, and the women of the international Via Campesina movement of peasant farmers staged a powerful silent protest inside the meeting on 23 March 2006.
"Terminator seeds are genocide seeds," said Francisca Rodriguez from Via Campesina, "We have pride in being one more step forward in our struggle but we will not stop until Terminator is banned from the face of the earth."
The CBD's moratorium on Terminator, adopted six years ago, was under attack by three governments - Australia, Canada and New Zealand - that insisted on a "case-by-case risk assessment" of the technology. A broad coalition of farmers, social movements, Indigenous peoples and civil society organizations pressed governments meeting in Brazil to reject the controversial text because it threatened to open the door to national-level field testing of Terminator, without regard for its devastating social impacts.